Monthly Archives: March 2014

"If only the little pig had plastered his straw walls…"

Outside view of the Armstrong's straw house.
Outside view of the Armstrong's straw house.


The phrase is written on the business card of Deirdre McGahern, owner of Straworks Inc., a company which incorporates straw bales into home design. And she is working on her biggest straw bale project to date, a 4,400-square-foot house just north of Port Hope.

Owned by Linda and Tony Armstrong, the house consists of a main entrance - a round tower reaching 30 feet in height - centred between living quarters with walls composed of straw bales.

And there's nothing particularly special about the straw bales used for construction. The only

Tony and Linda Armstrong discuss their project during an open house.
Tony and Linda Armstrong discuss their project during an open house.

difference is that they are packed a little tighter. In fact, the bales for this project come from a farmer across the road from the Armstrong's property.

Once installed, the bales are (more…)

As a business owner, I decided to sign up for some social networking lessons. Just saying that makes me sound kind of redneck, doesn't it?

Facebook logoThe local business advisory centre offered a two-hour course entitled Building Your Business on Facebook. Seeing I don't know the difference between a Like and a Poke, I thought it was time to jump into the world of technology.

Did you know that Facebook is already yesterday's fad. Considering that the average age for Facebookers is 35 to 50, the younger generation has already embraced it, perfected it, got bored with it and moved on.

So, it's the perfect time for this 55-year-old entrepreneur to take charge. This way, there's no surprises and I can't break the system.

So. Facebook. What is it?

According to one definition, "Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep intouch".

I wasn't (more…)

If you've ever seen the movie Tommy Boy with Chris Farley, there's a scene where Tommy Boy takes over the family business after his father passes. He suddenly becomes the company sales rep and goes on a road trip. And while his intentions are good, he gets turned down every time he makes a sales pitch. In fact, he is so terrified, that he's trying to escape from the office before the potential customer even answers.Jeff Hurst new

I thought that scene was hilarious until I started my own business. Now, I can relate.

Being in sales is humbling. But being in sales can also be uplifting.

As a newspaper editor for the past 35 years, I worked with sales people. In fact, righteous editorial people always referred to the sales side of the business as the "dark side", doing anything and promising anything for a sale. They were the people who brought in the money, (more…)

I've skied since I was a teenager and I still suck.

The problem is that you can't get any better when you only ski once a year.

Case in point was last weekend at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, New York.

Is this me? I wish!!!
Is this me? I wish!!!

I try to get out with my buddies once a year to go skiing. So this year, I tried to prepare myself by going to Brimacombe, a local ski hill with smaller hills. My plan was to ease myself into the longer runs at Holiday Valley Resort.

I chose a weekday, so there would be fewer skiers to a) laugh at me b) run into.

Unfortunately, mother nature wasn't playing nice that day and the -20C temperature was simply too cold for my aging body. Oh, and another reason was that helmets are mandatory. Well, kind of mandatory. The safety rules suggest a mandatory policy, and yet (more…)

One year!

It's been one year since leaving my job in Cambridge, moving to Cobourg to be closer to my wife Angela's family and figuring out what to do with the next phase of my life.Jeff Hurst new

So what am I doing and what have I learned?

What I haven't learned is to take advice from people who know better.

They all warned me.

Don't join, volunteer or take part in too many activities when you move to a new place. Give yourself some time to adjust, settle and live.

Did I listen? No.

Let's see, so far I have joined the Rotary Club of Cobourg, Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce, Royal Canadian Legion Cobourg, and the Cobourg Yacht Club. Oh, I also volunteer at Cobourg Police Services, was accepted to sit on the Cobourg Environmental Advisory Committee, and I grow vegetables on a plot of land at St. Joseph's Community Garden (where I also volunteer).

Oh, did I mention (more…)